Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Team of the week

Julio Cesar - QPR
As expected the QPR goal was peppered all afternoon with shots coming from all over the park. Cesear make a handful of top saves and was only beaten by a dubious offside goal from Mikel Arteta.

Kyle Walker - Spurs
Walker plays with so much energy and pace. Against Southampton he played almost as an out and out winger. The link up play between Walker and Aaron Lennon led to a lot of what was good about Spurs and gained them 3 away points.

Ivan Ramis - Wigan
Along with dealing with the physical presence of Andy Carroll Ramis scored the first goal of the game with a superb volley finish to set Wigan on the road to 3 big points against West ham. At 2-1 Wigan endured a nervous end to the game, however Ramis was able to guide his defensive partners to the final whistle.

Michael Turner - Norwich
Last week it was Seb Bassong who stole the show against Arsenal, this week it was his defensive partner Michael Turner who was the stand out performer for Norwich as they gained a big point at Villa park. Turner looked solid in defence while also managed to grab the equaliser with a smart headed finish.

Gareth Bale - Tottenham
Bale seems to improve each week and while this was not a show stopping performance he is capable of he caused problems for the Southampton defence all afternoon and opened the scoring with a bullet header on his return to St Mary's.

Juan Mata- Chelsea
Although they ended up losing a hugely important game against Man Utd Mata had another great game and capped his performance with a neatly finished freekick. If he had taken the chance to give his team a 3-2 lead they would have grabbed the headlines instead of Mark Clattenberg!

Mikel Arteta - Arsenal
Whether or not his goal should have been given offside Mikel Arteta deserves the credit for being in the right place at the right time. Arsenal endured a frustrating afternoon but must be given credit for playing to the final whistle.

James McArthur - Wigan
Last week West ham beat Southampton largely due to their strong midfield. Against Wigan on Saturday the Wigan engine room of McArthur and McCartney out battled West ham and gave Wigan the platform to win the match. For me James McArthur was the stand out player.

Robin Van Persie - Man Utd

The Dutchman looks imperious with Rooney, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia behind him. Two of United's goals came as a direct result of Van Persie's excellent movement off the defender. The way he left Gary Cahill on the deck before firing his shot home was poetry in motion.

Luis Suarez- Liverpool
Whatever you think about this player and his antics you can't deny he is a menace for opposition defenders and a dream to have in your team. He terrorised Everton in the Merseyside derby. He scored one and could have had another if Raheem Sterling had looked up, and might possibly have completed a hat-trick if a perfectly good goal had not been disallowed.

Dimitar Berbatov - Fulham
The Bulgarian looks likes he's enjoying his football again. There aren't many strikers who leave Manchester United and rediscover their best form. His goal was sensational. It wasn't just the finish but the way he collected the ball in the box and shifted the defender to make room for the finish. Now that's a striker.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Premier League team of the week

Joe Hart - Man City
 Hart made some huge saves to help his team grab all 3 points away at the Hawthornes. This despite being down to 10 men for the majority of the game. Joe proved once again why many see him as the Number 1 keeper in the league.

Sascha Riether - Fulham
Riether is making an impressive start to this career in England and was part of a solid defense who's hard work gained Fulham a clean sheet and 3 points at home against Villa.

Sebastien Bassong - Norwich
Norwich's 1-0 win against Arsenal was the surprise result of the weekend and Bassong played a huge part in keeping out the in-form Arsenal forward line. Bassong proved why he has previously played for Spurs and Newcastle. With more performances like this the question might be asked as to why he is now playing for Norwich?

Fabricio Coloccini - Newcastle
Is there a cooler centre half in the premiership? Captain Coloccini once again stood out for his calm and cool performance as he led his troops to a valuable point in the Lions den with just 10 men.

Juan Mata - Chelsea
For me Juan Mata is currently the best attacking player in the Premiership. Yet again we saw him grab hold of a game and lead Chelsea to victory. 2 more goals to add to his collection and to add to his growing reputation.

Mark Noble - West Ham
4 second half goals won the game for West ham with 2 of those coming from their home grown, hammers fan midfielder. Along with Kevin Nolan he controlled the midfield and the game. He was rewarded with 2 goals and a place in my team of the week.

Raheem Sterling - Liverpool
Sterling seems destine to be the young break through player of the 2012/13 season. He is the only bright spark in a struggling Liverpool team and was really on the only player who look capable of breaking down at determined Reading side.

Yohan Cabaye - Newcastle
Grabbing a 3rd minute lead for his team in a local derby with assure he goes down in folklore. Controlling the game even after losing Tiote - his midfield partner show just how important Cabaye is to Newcastle United.

Wayne Rooney - Man Utd
Things started badly for Rooney with an early own goal, however 2 goals and an assist show why Wayne Rooney has been a top player in the Premiership over the last decade.

Edin Dzeko - Man City
Dzeko will hate to be labeled as a super sub, however this is exactly what he was on Saturday as he emerged from the bench to grab 2 goals and 3 points for the Champions.
Dzeko will be desperate to show his manager he deserves a spot in City's starting 11 - with many more performances like this it will be impossible for Mancini to leave him out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blog Re-brand

I have decided to add a new focus to 'My kind of toon'. My main focus will always be NUFC, however I have decided to broaden my blog to include all Premier league, European, and International football.

With modern day technology you can turn on your TV and see football from all across the world and it can be said that we all follow a truly global game.

With that being said I am launching my new blog - The football world as seen by a Newcastle United fan.
I will cover any major news stories from around Europe as well as my thoughts after each round of games both in the Premier league and Champions league / Europa league.

I will select a team of the week after each Premier league weekend highlighting the top performers and also those who failed to live up the the high standards required!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Club v Country: The Ultimate Debate

We are 7 weeks into the current Premier league season yet it really has been stop-start due to the scheduled 3 International breaks.

As fans, we wait all summer for the big August kick off only to be frustrated weeks later as our players jet off around the world to represent their countries. Being chosen as one of the top professionals in your country must be one of the highlights of a players career and no doubt it fills them with immense pride, however for us fans it raises the ultimate questions: Club or Country?

Although I am currently living in the United States I am a fiercely proud Englishman who loves seeing the Three Lions roar to victory - whether this be in Football, Cricket, Rugby, or any other international competition in which England or Great Britain compete.

 I am equally proud of my Northumbrian heritage and although I am not a Geordie by birth - Newcastle is my city and Newcastle United my team. Nothing would make me happier than seeing England dominate the football world, conquering many World cups while Newcastle United consistently ruled English football. However if I had to choose between success for England or Newcastle United then I would have to nail my Black & White flag to the mast.

Supporting a club whether it be Newcastle, Liverpool, or even Carlisle United can dominate the life of a fan - every Saturday following the game, every day reading the newspapers, websites, listening to the radio and being glued to Skysports absorbing as much information as possible. Club football provides day-to-day drama and excitement to the fans and for me this is why the majority of fans have a deeper rooted connection with their chosen club.

International football is unique - it offers the fan an opportunity to watch the worlds best footballers together on the same pitch. There really is nothing like a World cup to unite a nation. England really is at its best when St Georges flags are hanging from every window and fans from all different clubs are uniting to support the national team.

Outside of major tournaments, international matches are very few and far between. Fans will follow their countries during the international break, then switch off and return to follow their clubs with a much stronger passion.

With the World Cup only played every 4 years an England victory in my lifetime would be massive, bigger however as a Newcastle United fan ending the decades long wait for a trophy would be beyond my wildest dream.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wonga - why all the fuss??

Has a sports team sponsorship deal ever caused as much of a media stir as that of Newcastle United's announcement to team up with the UK based financial company Wonga?

As an avid listener to Talksport radio, I have spent the last few days hearing the presenters, fans, ex-professionals and even local Members of Parliament comment on the deal with Wonga. One word that I have heard over and over again is 'ethics'. Wonga are seen in the public as an unethical company who prey on people who are struggling financially. Do Newcastle United have a moral obligation to stay away from companies with such a negative public reputation?

I personally feel that the public perception of Wonga is unfortunate and may be unjust. Wonga is a short term money lending company - not a loan Shark. Yes they offer ridiculously high interest rates (currently 4214%) , however this is a company who only offers a max loan of 400 GBP - we can all agree this is not an amount of money which will lead to financial ruin for anyone. Our previous Sponsor - Northern Rock who have strong roots in the city of Newcastle actually can be accused of having a large part to play in the banking melt down over recent years. Many people suffered as a result, yet there were no complaints regarding their connection with NUFC.

Looking at the moral obligation of NUFC - an argument could be made that dealing with Alcohol or betting companies breeches more ethical boundaries than the current Wonga deal. Unfortunately, many more lives have been ruined through Alcohol or gambling addictions - yet no moral high ground is taken when choosing to agree to sponsorship deals with companies in this sector. Numerous Premiership clubs happily plastered the logo of a Beer company or Betting websites across their shirt without little thought for the impact on society - yet NUFC are accused of neglecting their fans by teaming up with Wonga? I just don't get what all the fuss is about.

As fans we have the choice to form our own opinion of the clubs new sponsor, however no matter what the club sponsor may be one thing remains the same - We are still Newcastle United, the club we all fell in love with and continue to support.

If all else fails and you cannot stomach the connection between Wonga and our beloved NUFC - I urge you to at least find some joy that we no longer play at the Sports Direct Arena!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Europa League - Our best path to sucess

Thursday Night saw Newcastle United defeat the French club Bordeaux 3-0 in their second group game in the Europa league - (UEFA cup to us real fans)

No Football cup competition splits opinion amongst fans more than the Europa league. It can seem that some clubs view the competition as a bit of a hindrance even though they battle through a long domestic season to reach this reward. Over the last few years we have seem many English clubs use this competition to play their reserves or to blood young players - and I think this is great, however by under estimating this competition, clubs are throwing away the chance to win one of only two Europe wide club competitions.

Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Tottenham have all featured in the Europa league over the past few season - all without much success due to not taking the competition so serious - for me this was strange move as these three clubs should be taking every opportunity they have to collect a trophy. Last season also saw the two Manchester clubs drop into the Europa league after failing to quality for the later stages of the Champions league - only to then fail to make the later stages of the competition even though they undoubtedly have the squad to mount a serious challenge. Obviously Sir Alex and Roberto see no merit in winning this competition.

The English mentality towards this competition is holding back many clubs - however this is not the case on the continent where winning the Europa league is high on the list of priorities. This can be seen in the recent quotes from Spurs boss Andres Villa Boas, "The profile of the competition is raised in other countries, but not England. I don't understand it."

"I respect the competition. I certainly think it is viewed as a punishment in England and I cannot understand why. It is a traditional trophy."
For me NUFC spent all last season battling hard to make a European competition for the first time in 8 seasons. In a ideal situation it would have been the Champions league, however a good run in the Europa league can be viewed as a stepping stone to bigger things. The truth is the Europa league is far and away our best chance of winning a piece of Silver wear this season.
Along with respecting a competition that we have a serious chance of winning I also see the huge benefit of having the extra European games to blood the young members of our squad. Already this season we have seen how much Rob Elliott and Shane Feguson, to name just two, have benefited from the extra games. Now that we have been dumped out of the Capital One cup we have the Europa league to allow our squad to gain massive experience that can only be a positive for the future of NUFC.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ba, Cisse and the 4-4-2 problem

This season has started at a stuttering pace for NUFC and we currently sit 10th in the Premiership with 8 points from our opening 6 games. One of the main discussion points for fans is: are we best suited to a rigid 442 formation or should we continue with the fluid 433 which served us so well in the second half of last season?

The on / off transfer drama surrounding Demba Ba filled many newspaper columns and fan message boards. Thankfully we were able to hang onto our top goal scorer. Ba has started this season just like last year and currently leads the premier league goal scoring charts. However, my concern is that we have adapted our formation and the way we approach each game to fit to Demba Ba's style.

Much was made this summer of Ba's wants / demands to play a more central striking role rather than playing to the left of a front three alongside Pappis Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa. I have no doubts that Ba  benefits massively from playing in a front 2 in partnership with Cisse - but this is a team game and we cannot sacrifice the greater good of the team to meet the needs of one player. Pappis Cisse is yet to get on the score sheet in the Premier league this season and he really looks like half the player he was last year when the goals seemed to come so easily. Hatem Ben Arfa is easily the most talented player in the NUFC squad who certainly enjoys the freedom allowed to him in a forward 3. As part of a 442 a higher level of defensive work is needed from Hatem - that certainly is not his forte. For me the more time Ben Arfa spends with the ball at his feet running at defenders and threading balls through for Ba and Cisse the better.

I do not want to underestimate the importance of Demba Ba and can easily see what he brings to the team. Overall I actually think he is a better, more complete player than Pappis Cisse, however Cisse is the superior goal scorer.

Alan Pardew has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks especially as we have massive games against Man Utd and Sunderland coming up. Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa all deserved to be in our starting 11 week in, week out - Pardew is paid big money to make the decision as to how and where they fit into our team.

Howay the Lads